Voco Hotel, Yarra Valley/Australia: a holiday among lavender fields

The InterContinental Hotels Group has established its new Voco lifestyle brand with a focus on casual luxury. Now it plans to build one of its boutique hotels in the world-renowned wine region of Australia’s Yarra Valley, surrounded by 11,000 square metres of lavender fields.

The scent of lavender

The colour purple, as far as the eye can see – and the scent of lavender, which is particularly intense after it has rained. The Yarra Valley south of Melbourne is more than just a famed wine destination. According to the Lonely Planet travel guide, it also has the most picturesque lavender farms in the region. Against this backdrop, embedded in rows of lavender, lies the site of a newly planned luxury boutique hotel. The Australian architectural firm Hachem provided the design for this extraordinary construction.

Rows of lavender, Voco Hotel, Hachem
The Voco hotel is to be built amidst rows of lavender.

The hotel is shaped like a horseshoe, soaring five storeys at one end and, in a continuous curve, sloping down to ground level at the other. The design aims to provide a clear view of the surrounding countryside from every angle. The asymmetrical structure wraps itself around a sheltered courtyard that forms the heart of the hotel.

The hotel design considers the natural gradient to the land through the U-shape and sweeping, fluid form,

the architects at Hachem explain

Architecture with a distinct narrative

Hachem Architects have adopted a narrative approach to planning. Instead of merely designing buildings and interiors, stories are to be told by means of architecture and interior design.

“At Hachem, we hold stories – our ability to recognize, add to and tell them – as our most precious asset. It is what sets us apart from our competitors. While they are merely builders, designers and architects, we are something much richer,” Hachem contends.

“A great story will usually contain elements of drama and levity. Details, both subtle and significant, will be teased out as the narrative unfolds,” the architectural firm says in describing its work.

Entrance to Voco Hotel, Hachem
With its new Voco brand, the InterContinental Hotels Group intends to launch rural boutique hotels in the luxury segment.

The story of this Voco hotel, a new upscale brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group, revolves around the narrative of “hidden pleasures”. The $120 million hotel in the rural Yarra Valley intends to surprise its guests with hidden gems “at every turn”. The concept calls for unexpected shapes and angles as well as concealed passages and snug recesses.

A new ruralism

The interior design also reflects this narrative. Natural and artificial lighting complement each other to create an elegant atmosphere. By alternating smooth and textured surfaces and combining different materials, the architects achieve intriguing combinations, where the primary goal still remains to evoke warmth and luxury.

Hanging space, Voco, Hachem
The colour scheme is extremely subtle.
Bathroom, Voco, Hachem
But the choice of surfaces and materials makes for captivating contrasts.

We hold stories – our ability to recognize, add to and tell them – as our most precious asset.

Hachem Architects

Natural wood, leather, rough-cut stone, tiles and soft textiles in subdued colours embody a luxurious rusticity – one that has moved beyond the romantic country house style and instead embraced a more reserved sense of elegance. This underlying theme pervades every aspect of the project and aims to position the boutique hotel in the premium luxury segment.

Lavender gin from the boutique distillery

For the time being, however, the hotel only exists on paper and the building plans are currently under review by the Lilydale building authorities. Future visitors will be accommodated in 196 rooms and 20 designer cabins. In addition to conference rooms, a spa and a restaurant, the hotel will house a boutique distillery.

Room, Voco, Hachem
The sweeping curves of the architectural concept are also reflected in the interior.

The hotel will be located in the midst of lavender fields that cover an area of 11,000 square metres. These are not intended as ornamental gardens, but are to be entirely cultivated as a lavender farm. The food, luxury and cosmetic products produced here can be purchased at the Lavender Experience Centre. One of the highlights of the forthcoming product range is a gin infused with lavender botanicals.

Lavender Centre
The Lavender Experience Centre rises up from the field like an opening eyelid.

The Lavender Centre is designed as an annexe that is embedded in the hillside. Visitors who are interested in the production of lavender can find out about the diverse stages of cultivating this ornamental and medicinal plant. The roof of the building is fully planted with lavender and the structure rises up from the field on one side. Here, an arched glass front peers out of the rows of lavender, looking in the darkness like a gleaming eye.

Text: Gertraud Gerst
Translation: Rosemary Bridger-Lippe
Images: Hachem